By Matt Allibone,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Although the Penn State
wrestling team likes to approach each season with the mindset of taking it one
match at a time, they sometimes can't help but look ahead.
because when it comes to college wrestling, there is no time more exciting than
March, and after a long regular season, the Nittany Lions' favorite month and
the prospect of postseason competition has finally arrived.
the best time of the year and the most exciting time of the year," senior David Taylor said. "Now it's time to go
out and have some fun."
going 7-1 in the Big Ten this season, along with a non-conference dual victory
of conference rival Iowa, the Nittany Lions enter the weekend as Big Ten
regular season co-champions after splitting the dual meet title with Iowa and
with their impressive dual record, the Nittany Lions enter the weekend with
five wrestlers seeded No. 1 in the tournament, with junior Nico Megaludis (125), freshman Zain
Retherford (141), Taylor (165), senior Ed
Ruth (184), and redshirt-sophomore Morgan
McIntosh (197) all taking the top spots at their respective weights, while
junior Matt Brown (174) isn't far
behind as a No. 2 seed.
their high rankings, the Nittany Lions prefer not to look at their individuals
seeds as they prepare for the postseason, knowing that previous reputations
mean little when their fates can be determined by one match.
haven't looked too close at the seeds but I think our guys earned what they
got," head coach Cael Sanderson
said. "Our guys are ready and a lot of it is just attitude at this point."
only has to think back to last season to point out how little seeds can ultimately
mean, when Brown, ranked No. 5 in last year's tournament, rallied to win the
conference title at 174.
determined as the Nittany Lions are to win their fourth consecutive Big Ten
title, they know that their biggest goal of the weekend is qualifying as many
wrestlers as possible for the NCAA Championships, which will kick off on Mar.
season the Nittany Lions qualified all ten starters for the national
tournament, and saw the benefit payoff as the team claimed their third straight
national title. With the Big Ten having
garnered 74 automatic qualifying spots for the national tournament and with no
Penn State starter seeded lower than eighth, the Nittany Lions will look to do
the same this year.
a huge weekend for us with an even bigger weekend coming two weeks later,"
Sanderson said. "To have an opportunity at the NCAAs we have to have a good
weekend this weekend and move all of our guys through."
year the Nittany Lions will enter the postseason with a lineup featuring a
unique mix of veteran stars and young talent.
some wrestlers, Ruth and Taylor in particular, will be soaking in their final
conference tournament while both looking to become four-time Big Ten champions,
others, such as Retherford, will be experiencing the postseason for the first
been preparing for this all year so I'm excited to go out and step on the mat,"
Retherford said. "Everybody says this is the best time of the year so that's
what I'm looking forward to."
nerves felt by Retherford and fellow freshman Jimmy Gulibon (133) have been tempered by having former Big Ten Champions
Brown, Ruth, and Taylor to seek advice from.
"You're trying to set the standard for where
you want to be at the NCAAs so it's just about going out and wrestling the
match like you have all season long," Taylor said. "The biggest mistake people
make is trying to change things up the week of the Big Ten tournament."
wrestler who will be especially determined to make his mark felt this weekend
is senior James English, who has
recently taken over the starting spot at the 149-pound weight.
competitor who missed two seasons to injury earlier in his career before
fighting through various ailments this year, English is finally healthy, and
having beaten out freshman Zack Beitz
and junior Andrew Alton, will
compete in the Big Ten Championships for the first time in his career.
has earned the right to compete for Penn State and when he's feeling good he's
very good," Sanderson said. "He's resilient and if things end the way he's
planning on them ending I think you've got a nice script for a movie."
is confident is the ability of all his wrestlers, both young and old, to score
points this weekend. Now that the regular season is over, the is little more
that he say or do other than sit back and enjoy the show.
part as coaches is to prepare these guys and send the right messages and
examples," Sanderson said. "At the Big Ten (Championships) you sit back and say
'here you go, it's up to you, go get it,' and I'm as excited to watch as anyone